How I’m curing myself of “all or nothing” thinking


I suffer from “all or nothing” thinking, which I believe to be a form of perfectionism. If I don’t have time to clean the entire house in one session, I’ll not clean at all. If a day full of meetings means I can’t complete a proposal draft, I’ll not spend 30 minutes working on an outline. I think I’ve discovered a cure for this way of thinking. Want to know what it is?

It’s my 15 minute rule, and it began in the garden.

Last week I decided to try something new. I set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I normally awake. I went to the gym as usual and returned home 15 minutes earlier. I spent my extra quarter of an hour pulling weeds. It took a lot of discipline for me to stop after 15 minutes. After all, that wasn’t enough time to weed my entire vegetable garden and it felt strange to leave a project incomplete. In fact, it took three mornings before my vegetable garden was cleared.

How I'm curing myself of "all or nothing" thinking.

This guy makes sure I obey my 15 minute rule.

I don’t go to the gym on Thursdays because I meet my running club on Thursday evenings, but I woke up at my normal time and I weeded for an hour. An interesting thing happened last week, 15 minutes at a time (plus my bonus time on Thursday). The weeds in my flower beds and veggie garden were under control. Saturday rolled around and I had what I thought was an advantageous outdoor to-do list. Because I didn’t have to spend a couple of hours pulling weeds, I was finished by 11:30. I loved it!

I’m applying my 15 minute rule again this week. I’ll spend the time weeding beds and deadheading roses. This morning, Thursday, I spent an hour gardening before my 6:30 shower. Once this becomes a firm habit I may get all crazy and apply my 15 minute rule to my evenings for housework. No promises, though!

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3 Responses to How I’m curing myself of “all or nothing” thinking

  1. Cath says:

    Sounds like a good plan and start! 🙂

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